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Source: Siecle Digital as of 09-06-2020

Thanks to machine learning, WWF-Indonesia saves valuable time to study the evolution of populations.

With the help of the giant Amazon Web Services (AWS), WWF-Indonesia has decided to use artificial intelligence to protect orangutans,currentlycritically endangered in  danger critique d’extinction  Indonesian territory. Machine learning allows the association to study with great precision the evolution of the behavior of these great apes.

Speed up search with machine learning

Protecting and saving orangutans is no small task in Indonesia. Their natural habitat has been threatened for many years by giant productions of oil palms that hunt forests. The association estimates that Borneo’s orangutan population has declined by more than 50% over the past 60 years. It is easier to understand why when we know that their natural habitat has also been reduced by 55% over the last 20 years. A very clear decline in the orangutan population, totally due to the activity of men.

WWF-Indonesia does not intend to remain passive in the face of such changes. The association decided to use the major means and accelerate its efforts by turning to new technologies. With the support of Amazon Web Services, WWF decided to use machine learning to better understand the changing size and health of great apes observed in their natural habitat. Orangutans are solitary monkeys and it is very difficult to observe them accurately. Artificial intelligence could speed up research.

This initiative is bound to remind us of Microsoft’s Planetary  Computer. A project based on artificial intelligence, which is also intended to protect the environment. Through machine learning and big data, Planetary Computer will collect and analyze large volumes of environmental data to better identify and understand the ecological challenges we will face in the future. The company is also targeting a  negative carbon footprint by 2030.

AI comes to the rescue of orangutans

This machine learning solution allows WWF to study larger territories, using fewer resources. An ideal equation for this association which must also protect biodiversity in the rest of the country. According to Aria Nagasastra, Chief Financial officer and technology officer of WWF-Indonesia:

“Through careful use of technology, this innovation will help biologists and conservationists monitor wildlife behaviour effectively and cheaply over time. This will allow us to allocate our resources to intensify surveillance efforts and invest more in conservation actions.”

Today, the observation processes are very long and particularly complex. Within minutes, AWS’s artificial intelligence should be able to complete a task that took researchers three days. The cloud is at the heart of this solution. WWF-Indonesia can automatically collect photos of smartphones and activated cameras  on Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and then analyze them.

Data collected and processed in the cloud from Amazon Web Services includes the male-female ratio, age categories, and a regular assessment of population viability. Concretely this means that thanks to artificial intelligence, WWF-Indonesia can know very quickly if a female is expecting a baby or if a monkey is sick. A feat that could inspire other associations around the world.

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